Merchandise trade has become an increasingly important contributor to a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), particularly for developing countries. Before the global financial crisis hit in 2008, merchandise trade as a percent of GDP for low- and middle-income economies was 57 percent, about 5% higher than for high-income economies. This is very evident in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) where merchandise trade accounts for 73 percent of the developing region’s GDP. Many ECA countries including Hungary, Belarus, and Bulgaria have merchandise trade to GDP ratios above 100 percent (155, 136, and 114 percent respectively in 2011), meaning merchandise exports are a large contributor to their overall economy.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates are some of the most heavily requested and used data published on data.worldbank.org. And as many users notice, the estimates are sometimes revised, occasionally resulting in large changes from previously published values. Why do revisions happen, what information do we publish about those revisions, and where do you find it?
A clear pattern of 'two speed recovery' emerged from the global economic crisis: although the East Asian economies saw a drop of nearly 4 percentage points in their GDP growth to 8.5 percent in 2008 and a further decline to 7.5 percent in 2009, they rebounded quickly to 9.7 percent in 2010. At the same time, however, growth in high income countries fell by 6.6 percentage points during 2008-09, from 2.7 percent in 2007 to -3.9 in 2009. Moreover, these economies are not yet out of the woods given the sovereign debt crises in the Euro Area. This is one of the many fascinating patterns revealed in the newly updated online version of the World Development Indicators.
What is more striking is that low income countries (LICs) have been resilient during the crises, more so than in the past. The annual GDP growth rate for low income countries declined less than 1 percentage point in 2008, standing at 4.7 percent in 2009 and quickly recovered to 5.9 percent in 2010. In particular, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia have shown robust growth of 6 to 11 percent throughout this period. Similar conclusions were presented in Didier, Hevia and Schmukler April 2011.
We launched the 2010 World Development Indicators today, except this year we launched it on data.worldbank.org—the Bank’s new open data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators previously available only to paying subscribers. We’re pushing to share our data with the world, and the WDI is a wonderful platform for this. Year after year, we pull together data from many places—across international agencies and countries-- in one place to draw a statistical image of the world. This year, whole new audiences will be able to access our work.
Since I joined the Bank, I have worked with a team of economists, statisticians, and others to produce a new WDI each year. Every April, we unveiled a new edition that revealed new facts about development. It was our chance to describe development by the numbers. But the numbers were not enough. We needed to explain the numbers, make it easier for others to pull knowledge from all these facts. The essays, the detailed descriptions and definitions of the data were a step in the right direction, but we needed to do more.
The Bank released today the latest edition of the World Development Indicators, an annual Bank flagship. The WDI provides a comprehensive overview of development drawing on data from the World Bank and more than 30 partners.
"The WDI is the statistical benchmark that will help measure both the impact of the crisis and, eventually, of global recovery," says Shaida Badiee, director of the Bank's Development Data Group.
Some of this year's highlight focus on the economy, spread of new technology, migration, energy and climate change.
For example, did you know that India leads all countries in exports of information communication technology (ICT) services? ICT sector exports account for about 42% of total service exports. Ok, so that was an easy one.
But did you know that energy use has doubled since 1971? The United States, Japan, Germany, Russia, China and India consume most energy, and are the largest emmiters of carbon dioxide?